Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal

by Women's Global Education Project
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal
Our Sisters Lead beneficiary talks about GBV
Our Sisters Lead beneficiary talks about GBV

The three girls’ leadership workshops focusing on the topics of public speaking, advocacy and conflict resolution were held with the final workshop completed in March. Over 185 girls in their second to last year of high school in Sokone participated in these workshops funded by the State Department through the US Embassy in Senegal. The girls were surveyed at the beginning of the year to determine what three subject areas they wanted to increase in proficiency.

In addition to these three workshops, a final retreat for a group of 25 girls selected by teachers and staff was held over a weekend in April. The girls attended an intensive weekend workshop where they learned how to formulate and implement an advocacy campaign around three thematic topics, chosen by the girls themselves. These topics were avoiding early marriage and pregnancy, preventing gender based violence and environmental sustainability focused on waste/garbage management. Experts on each of these topics attended the retreat and helped the girls formulate the messaging for their respective campaigns. US Embassy officials also attended part of the weekend where they delivered over 200 donated books on leadership and entrepreneurship which will be distributed to all participants at the closing ceremony in June.

Following this leadership retreat, these 25 girls are now implementing their respective campaigns in and around Sokone, with their fellow program beneficiaries. Their campaigns have been enthusiastically received by community members, parents and local officials. The girls have really taken on the mantle of leaders in their communities, convening small group sessions to discuss the issues that they have chosen, holding larger scale community mobilization meetings and finally, participating in radio broadcasts that highlight the topic and mobilize the community around the issue. In one instance, the girls focusing on avoiding early marriage and pregnancy were able to successfully convince a mother to delay offering her 13-year old daughter in marriage. The mother, who had limited resources and felt unable to care for her daughter had promised her in marriage the following week. She decided to call off the marriage and her daughter will be enrolled as a beneficiary in Sisters to School program next year to ensure that she stays in school and avoids early marriage.

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Rural girls in Senegal lead the way
Rural girls in Senegal lead the way

Women's Global Education Project's newest program, Our Sisters Lead, is in full swing, with girls in high school just completing the second of three workshops that will be convened for these young emerging leaders. After surveying the girls on what topics and skills they felt were most important to support their roles as youth leaders, WGEP identified three subjects that the young women were most interested in pursuing: conflict resolution, public speaking and advocacy. Experts in all three areas along with a facilitator with a background in improvisation and role playing ensured that these young women had an opportunity to try out the skills they were learning in these workshops using real life scenarios.

The third workshop will be held in a few short weeks, after which a special leadership retreat will be convened for a select group of girls who have demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities. The program will finish off with these young women conceptualizing, planning and implementing a small scale community impact project with their fellow students on topics that they themselves have identified as important to them. This will be an empowering and inspiring opportunity for girls to make a difference in their communities using the skills that they have acquired to bring about change.

The girls are having a great time at these workshops and are proudly taking up the mantle of young leaders in their communities. Teachers, the principal and the mayor have been key participants in the program, with the mayor kicking off each workshop and encouraging the girls to become role models for the next generation. Women’s Global Education Project is proud to be supporting the next generation of leaders and looks forward to continuing and expanding this program to high schools in the area. 

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This year, WGEP is excited to partner with the U.S. Embassy in Senegal to create our third program, Our Sisters Lead! Emerging leaders among high school girls in Sokone will be empowered to become change agents in their own communities through a series of workshops and hands-on service projects. These inspiring young women will then become mentors and role models to young girls who face similar challenges in their everyday lives.

WGEP officially kicked off the program last month with a ceremony for the 207 excited participants in Sokone. Students, teachers, local officials from the Ministry of Education, municipal leaders and officials from the US Embassy were all invited to attend. The local radio station even broadcasted the event.

The girls are embracing their roles of change-makers already: they now refer to themselves by adding the term “leader” after their first name — Khady is now Khady-leader, and Mariama is now Mariama-leader!

Local education officials, the school principal and teachers are very supportive of the program and committed to ensuring its success. WGEP intends to use this year as a pilot with the goal of expanding to other high schools in the region!

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Women's Global Education Project strives to support our scholars every step of the way through school. We have worked to indentify key turning points where girls are most at risk of dropping out due to a lack of economic, social, or cultural support, and we intervene with locally developed services to help them thrive and stay in school.

So what happens when a WGEP scholar finishes high school? Well, we have an intervention for that, too.

Our Sisters to School Senegal program will soon be holding a panel on higher education for scholars who have recently graduated. 78 of our scholars will participate in this information session where they will hear from government officials, female professionals and local women leaders about options for higher education, vocational studies and receive general guidance on options for their future.

The government of Senegal has recently introduced a new online platform for high school graduates to apply to public universities. In Senegal, public universities are free for all students who qualify, and the government even pays for 1 year of private university. The government official participating in WGEP's upcoming panel will walk the girls through the process of registering on this platform, with our staff facilitating this process afterward with the young women.

Thanks to the holistic support they receive from our local staff in Senegal, our scholars once again performed much higher academically than most other students in the region this last school year. 61% of our scholars in their final year of high school passed the national exams. Although the regional passing rate in Fatick has not yet been announced for this year, in past years it has been around 34%. WGEP scholars frequently express how much tutoring, psychological counseling, and the other support they receive has helped them succeed on these high-pressure exams.

Thanks to supporters like you, together, we are showing girls that their futures are full of possibilities!

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A scholar addresses the crowd of 300 people.
A scholar addresses the crowd of 300 people.

Have you ever felt like your entire future was riding on one test? Maybe before you took the ACT, SAT, the Bar, MCAT, or another big exam? So nerve-racking! Did you get a tutor, or try to go at it alone?

WGEP scholars in Senegal are in their final year of middle school, and are currently getting ready to take an important exam like that--they must pass in oder to proceed to high school. This is a time when many girls drop out of school, particularly if they fail the exam. Parents often decide to keep them out of school, and girls frequently end up marrying early.

That's why we are doing everything we can to make sure these determined young women have everything they need to succeed.

In May, we held a village-based community meeting in Sadgioga. These meetings are a critical part of WGEP’s grassroots approach where we engage directly with parents, village and religious leaders on the importance of educating girls. Over 300 people attended this meeting, and several of our scholars spoke.

The girls told the community members gathered how our tutoring intervention has given them the extra confidence and reinforcement that they need to pass exams. Although the academic year is not yet over, with the exams approaching, the girls expressed confidence in their ability to pass and move on to high school. These girls have worked so hard, and they are an insipiration to their whole community!

Want to help us tutor more middle school girls so that they can stay in school despite pressure to drop out? Consider donating again--we couldn't do this without you. As always, thank you so much for your ongoing support!

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Organization Information

Women's Global Education Project

Location: Oak Park, IL - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Amy Maglio
Founder
Oak Park, Illinois United States
$225,249 raised of $300,000 goal
 
1,787 donations
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